A meeting between representatives of CNT-Spain and of the International Confederation of Labour (ICL) with delegates from South Korean unions took place on November the 14th.
Prior to this meeting and in preparation, both delegations exchanged messages over the email. In these, the Korean syndicalists expressed their interest in the reunion and put forward a number of issues and questions that they wanted to see discussed on the day.
In general, the conversation focused on specific details of the labour, union and social situations in Spain and South Korea. The Korean delegates wanted to know more about the Spanish union model and the alternative that CNT represents. Also, about specific problems that workers face in the country. They were specially interested in the feminist general strike of the 8th of March. Likewise, they answered similar questions from the CNT delegates. Overall, current aims of South Korean unions are to oppose government initiatives against the working class, to achieve levels of union freedom similar to other developed countries and to improve the balance between work and personal life. As you can see in the attached dossier, South Korea is known for its endless working hours and for state repression against organised labour.
Then, ICL delegates presented the recently founded International, its aims and projects, and handed out copies of the statutes and work areas documents, approved in Parma. It was explained that ICL understands that the concepts of anarchosyndicalism and revolutionary unionism belong to a very specific cultural and geographical context, but that we are nevertheless open to work together with workers’ organisations that share our methods and aims, on common projects that may arise. Both parties agreed to keep in touch.
Overall, the meeting was extremely friendly and, we believe, very productive, despite of the obvious translation difficulties. The South Korean delegates showed a good understanding of the specifics of anarchosyndicalism and revolutionary unionism, their methods and aims. Obviously, these are far removed from their traditional ways of organising, but the interest that they have shown, their time-tested militancy and the country’s role in the production chains, on the global scale, make these contacts a very positive development. We hope that they can be sustained and strengthened.
Miguel Perez, on behalf of the Liaison Committee of ICL
South Korea: Unions and labour relations
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